ABOUT BOBBY SHAW MIDDLE SCHOOL
|Robert K "Bobby" Shaw was a 1940 Pasadena High School graduate who was a Musician Second Class in the United States Navy. He tragically lost his life on the USS Arizona, the infamous battleship that sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor. As a member of the PHS band, Shaw played trombone and received many honors at state competitions for his solos. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy only a few months following his graduation and entered the U.S. Navy School of Music in January 1941.
In honor of Shaw's ultimate sacrifice, the Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees approved the naming of the school in February 2008.
Pasadena High alumnus Shaw remembered for trombone tones,
acts of valor at Pearl Harbor
On Dec. 7, 2005, history came full circle for Pasadena High School as more than 400 students, alumni, and faculty, war veterans and other Pasadena ISD employees and community members gathered in the school's auditorium to honor 1940 PHS graduate and Musician Second Class of the United States Navy Robert K "Bobby" Shaw for the sacrifice he made along with more than 2,000 other American servicemen 64 years ago.
Sadly, Shaw lost his life on the USS Arizona, the infamous battleship that sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Shaw enlisted in the U.S. Navy only a few months following his graduation and entered the U.S. Navy School of Music in January 1941. He played trombone in the USS Arizona band and orchestra and held the rate of Seaman Second Class upon his graduation from the U.S. Navy School of Music.
Chuck Martin, a 1941 PHS graduate who remembers Shaw, donated a book entitled "USS Arizona's Last Band, The History of U.S. Navy Band Number 22" to the school's library. The book provides a biography and other information on Shaw and other Arizona band members.
Upon learning of Shaw's sacrifice and after returning from a recent trip to Pearl Harbor, PHS librarian Jane Golenko was inspired to honor Shaw and other PHS graduates who lost their lives in war.
"I was so moved by the experience of that visit and seeing Bobby's name carved in the granite with so many others who died on that horrific day," Golenko said. "I was inspired to recognize this young man as a graduate of our school so that he would not be forgotten in our school history."
Bearing his Eagle pride during his short time of service to the United States, Shaw's class ring was recovered by the Navy and sent to his family in July 1942. Golenko tracked down Shaw's ring along with other memorabilia through relatives. Shaw's personal items such as letters to his family, his Purple Heart and other medals, family pictures, the Western Union telegram sent to his parents listing him as "Missing in Action" and his uniform hat along with his class ring were displayed in the school's library for several weeks prior to the ceremony.
"It was my hope that the students and faculty would recognize the connection our school in particular had with a very important historical event," Golenko said. "When history is personalized, it becomes much more meaningful. Pearl Harbor has now become more than just an event in a book for our students, and it has certainly become more than just an event in history for me."
Liz West, one of Shaw's nieces who lives in Austin, worked with Golenko by providing information on Shaw as well as allowing his personal items such as his class ring to be displayed in the school's library. She was one of several family members who attended the ceremony. "I believe this experience will show the students of this community that one never knows how their own life might impact the life of another," she said. "They need to recognize their own place in this world and in its history, and they should always do their best no matter what."
At the start of the ceremony, the school's MJROTC directed by Maj. Keith Coleman and 1st Sgt. Joe Rivas presented the colors and the choir sang the "Star Spangled Banner." The band, as a tribute to all veterans, played a medley of the service songs titled "Salute to America's Finest." A visual presentation of Shaw's life was also given.
"The ceremony was phenomenal," said Robben East, one of Shaw's other nieces. "I started crying the second the band began to play. Jane Golenko did a tremendous job. It was very moving, and our family is extremely proud of Bobby and for the sacrifice he made. He has been an inspiration to every member of our family."
At the closing of the ceremony, Coleman and his MJROTC cadets presented the United States flag to West and the other members of Shaw's family who were present.
"Jane Golenko has helped keep our family history alive," West said. "I never expected something this big to happen for Bobby, and the ceremony was so wonderful and moving. This flag will be a part of his memorabilia that we plan to display in our home with his class ring and Purple Heart."
Golenko said she was thrilled at the opportunity to meet and speak with Bobby's family. "It was wonderful to become acquainted with Bobby's family and with the relatives of other graduates who have suffered a loss in military service," she said. "I felt like I knew them already from reading Bobby's letters and seeing their pictures. The presentation of the flag by Maj. Coleman to Bobby's family was the most moving recognition of Bobby and his sacrifice that we could have witnessed."
More than 20 alumni attended the ceremony ranging from graduates of the Class of 1939 to the Class of 1989. One 1944 PHS graduate who attended the ceremony remembered Shaw as an inspiration to play trombone. As his neighbor, Burke Landry said he could always hear Shaw practicing from his home.
Shaw played baritone horn and received many honors at state competitions for his solos as a member of the PHS band. He was even invited by the Alvin High School Band to attend the World's Fair at New York in the summer of 1940.
"The sound was always so beautiful," Landry said. "I was determined to play trombone after hearing Bobby play. I wanted to sound like him but I could never achieve the quality he had."
Prior to the ceremony, Golenko publicized that she would like for relatives and friends of other PHS graduates who lost their lives in military service to contact her with their names so they too could be recognized. Golenko received the following four names: Jimmie Slaten, Class of 1942, U.S. Army; Layne H. Connevey, Class of 1963, U.S. Army; Terry Alford, Class of 1966, U.S. Army; and David W. Smith, Class of 1979, U.S. Air Force.
The school has designed and placed two commemorative plaques in the library. One plaque was reserved for Shaw's name and picture and the other holds the names of the other graduates who gave their lives in military service.
"We owe a great debt of gratitude to all our graduates who gave the most precious thing they had for all of us to live our lives in peace," Golenko said. "I think the most important thing for the students to understand is that history always includes real human beings, families and communities. Pasadena High School has a large family and the pain that is felt by anyone in our family is felt by all of us. We are unified by the awareness of all our losses."
Golenko said people who knew Shaw and other PHS graduates are still contacting her.
"The contacts we have developed with some of our graduates is especially gratifying," she said. "They are amazing people with so many wonderful stories to tell about our school history. They have all been so gracious with their time and assistance and the occasion was richer because of them."
Golenko hopes to have some kind of yearly observance that is similar to this ceremony. She said she is working on ways to be able to display again many of the items of memorabilia that made the event so meaningful as well as enlarging the group of contacts.
"Far too often, we get caught up in our day to day lives and take for granted the sacrifices that so many have made in the name of this most glorious freedom with which we have been blessed," said PHS principal Morris Fuselier. "We have far too few celebrations like this one when we take the time to honor the lives of our fallen countrymen. The ceremony served as a fitting tribute to our servicemen and women who give so much everyday and demand so little."